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Temporary Custody by Extended Family Member: What You Need to Know About Chapter 751

Chapter 751 of Florida Statutes dictates the requirements for legal and temporary custody of a minor child by an extended family member. As reflected in Chapter 751, many minor children live with and are cared for by members of their extended families. However, what happens when that family member needs to take extended care of a minor child?

Chapter 751 lists the requirements for the filing of a Petition for Temporary or Concurrent Custody of a Minor Child. It also lists what providing temporary or concurrent custody would allow for the family member to do on the child’s behalf. If granted, a Petition for Temporary or Concurrent Custody allows for the extended family member to:

  1. Maintain physical custody of the child;
  2. Consent to all necessary and reasonable medical and dental care for the child, including non-emergency and psychiatric care;
  3. Secure copies of the child’s records, held by third parties, that are necessary for the care of the child;
  4. Enroll the child in school and grant or withhold consent for a child to be tested or placed in special school programs, including exceptional education;
  5. Do all other things necessary for the care of the child.

Those individuals who qualify as an “Extend Family Member” are defined under Chapter 751 as a relative of the child within the third degree by blood or marriage to the parent, a stepparent of a minor child if the stepparent is currently married to the parent of the child and is not a party in a pending dissolution, separate maintenance, domestic violence, or other civil or criminal proceeding in any court of competent jurisdiction involving one or both of the child’s parents as an adverse party, or an individual who qualifies as “fictive kin” as defined in s. 39.01. Prior to filing a Petition, the extended family member seeking such must currently have physical custody of the child or have had physical custody of the child for at least 10 days in any 30-day period within the last 12 months; and not have signed, written documentation from a parent which is sufficient to enable the custodian to do all of the things necessary to care for the child which are available to custodians with an order issued under s. 751.05. 

 The requirements for the filing of a Petition, pursuant to Chapter 751, are as follows:

  1. Each Petition must be verified by the petitioner, who must be an extended family member;           
  2. Each Petition must contain:
    1. The name, date of birth, and current address of the child;
    2. The names and current addresses of the child’s parents;
    3. The names and current addresses of the persons with whom the child has lived during the past 5 years;
    4. The places where the child has lived during the past 5 years;
    5. Information concerning any custody proceeding in this or any other state with respect to the child;
    6. The residence and post office address of the petitioner;
    7. The petitioner’s relationship to the child;
    8. If concurrent custody is being requested;
    9. The time periods during the last 12 months that the child resided with the petitioner;
    10. The type of document, if any, provided by the parents or parent to enable the petitioner to act on behalf of the child;
    11. The services or actions that the petitioner is unable to obtain or undertake without an order of custody; and
    12. Whether each parent has consented in writing to the entry of an order of concurrent custody.
    13. If available, a copy of the written consent and any documents provided by the parent to assist the petitioner in obtaining services must be attached to the Petition.
  3. In Petitions which request temporary custody, they must also include, if available and present in the case, the consent of the parents or the specific acts or omissions of the parents which demonstrate that the parents have abused, abandoned or neglected the child as defined in Chapter 39.
  4. Petitions must also include any temporary or permanent orders for child support and/or any temporary or permanent orders for protection entered on behalf or against either parent, the petitioner, or the child. These must also include the court entering the order and the case number.
  5. Finally, Petitions must include that it is in the best interest of the child for the petitioner to have custody, the period of time for which the petitioner is requesting temporary custody, including a statement of reasons supporting that request, and any other provisions related to the best interests of the child, including a reasonable plan for transition custody.

Upon filing a Petition for Temporary or Concurrent Custody, proper notice and opportunity to be heard is and must be offered to the parents of the child by service of process. Chapter 751 also covers the requirements of the court in evaluating a Petition for Temporary or Concurrent Custody and the requirements of the court’s final order as to such.

Often, these cases become contested, which could result in additional litigation or responsive pleadings, among other complex matters.  It is important to have a seasoned and experienced attorney to evaluate your case and the potential issues which may arise. The Rice Law Firm has handled many cases regarding temporary or concurrent custody since 1986. Contact us today at our Daytona Beach location at 386-310-2914.